Herb: Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium; Compositae)
Note: Penelope Ody includes wormwood and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) on the same page in her book–All notes in this monograph refer only to Artemisia absinthium (15)
Other Names: green ginger, absinthe. (2)
Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum; Compositae)–All (6) notes in this monograph apply to Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia abrotanum. (6)
Old woman, ajenjo. (57)
Character/Energetics: bitter, cold
…pungent, drying, quite cold (15)
Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: liver, gall bladder (6)
liver, gall bladder, stomach, intestines, uterus and joints (14)
Part(s) used: leaves (6) leaves or flowering tops (8)
Identification & Harvesting: Plant grows from 2′-4′ high; a semi-shrub with a woody, hardy stem up to 3′ high, erect, branched and leafy. Leaves are alternate, long-stemmed and silky/pubescent on both sides. Strongly aromatic. Numerous yellow flower heads are short-stemmed and hang in a many-flowered panicle; very tiny fruits. Found almost everywhere. (2)
Gather at the end of flowering between July and September. (8)
Harvest while flowering in late summer. (15)
Stem is 2 to 2-1/2 feet high, whitish like the leaves, with fine silky, appressed hairs. Leaves about 3 inches long by 1-1/2 inch broad, about three times pinnatifid, the leafstalks slightly winged at the margin, and the lobes linear and obtuse. The small, nearly globular flowerheads are arranged in an erect leafy panicle, the leaves being reduced to three or even on linear segment. The flowers have a greenish yellow tint, and have no pappus. Tastes very bitter. Odor, characteristis, resembling that of thujone. (57)
Active Constituents: Volatile oils with high levels of (+)-thujone; sesquiterpene bitter principles incl. absinthine, anabsinthine, artabsine and matricine. (2)
absinthol which is common to all wormwoods, in addition to other essential oils including pinene, cineol borneol phenol cuminic aldehyde, artemisia ketone (6)
rich in essential oils incl. absinthol, thujyl, isovaleric acid; bitter sesquiterpenes; flavonoid glycosides. (8)
volatile oil (inc. sesquiterpene lactones and thujone),…flavonoids…silica, antibiotic polyacetylenes,…hydroxycoumarins (15)
Actions: A water-based extract is supposed to retard the growth of Plasmodium falciparum. Essential oil may have an antimicrobial effect. Stimulates bitter receptors in taste buds, with corresponding trigger of stomach secretions. (2)
alterative, cholagogue, emmenagogue, astringent, vermifuge (6)
bitter tonic, carminative, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory. A broad spectrum tonic. (8)
Primarily anthelmintic; also antiseptic, aromatic, diaphoretic, tonic (14)
…bitter digestive tonic, uterine stimulant, stimulating nervine, menstrual regulator, antirheumatic.(15)
Tonic, stomachic, febrifuge, anthelmintic. (57)
Conditions and Uses: Administer for loss of appetite, dyspeptic disorders, bloating, meteorism. Folk uses include gastric insufficiency, intestinal atonia, gastritis, stomach-ache, liver disorders, bloating, anemia, irregular menses, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, worm infestation; but corroborative documentation for these is poor. Apply externally for poorly healing wounds, ulcers, skin blotches, and insect bites. (2)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium and Southernwood–Artemisia abrotanum) is used to counteract fevers, regulate the liver and menses and treat anemia and arthritis. It also is abortive. It is taken as a bitter tonic and given to eliminate intestinal worms and parasites. A wash of the tea will relieve itching from rashes. (6)
Traditionally used in a wide range of conditions, most of which have been vindicated by analysis. Primarily used as a bitter digestive for indigestion, intestinal parasites such as roundworm and pinworm. Alleviates fever and infections. (8)
Internal uses — diarrhea: infusion*, powder*. Fevers, indigestion, worms: infusion. Gas: infusion, powder, fluid extract. Jaundice: infusion*. Weak digestion: infusion, fluid extract.
External uses — boils: fomentation. Rheumatism, swelling: fomentation, liniment.
*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.
Wormwood is an intensely bitter herb and will stimulate sweating and improve digestion. It is an excellent stomach tonic. The hot tea stimulates the uterus and will help bring on suppressed menstruation. The tea will expel roundworms and pinworms. It is an excellent remedy for bilious and liver troubles. Add wormwood to liniments for excellent results in rheumatism, swellings and sprains. Wormwood is good for all digestive problems when the liver and gall bladder are involved. It will relieve pain during labor also. Externally, the tea as a fomentation is used for insect bites, bruises and injuries. As a folk medicine, its reputation lies in its use for gastritis, stomach ulcers, dysentery, tuberculosis, liver and spleen conditions, kidney and bladder problems. Bleeding of the bowel can be treated by an injection of the tea and retained for 5 minutes several times daily as needed. (14)
WORMWOOD (Artemisia absinthium; Compositae)
A. Absinthium–Aerial Parts–These expel intestinal worms, stimulate the appetite and liver, and also the uterus, so were traditionally used in childbirth. They contain the potentially addictive thujone, which gave the drink absinthe its notorious reputation. (15)
Good for enfeebled digestion and debility. May also be used to expel worms. (57)
Precautions: Due to the herb’s thujone content, large doses can lead to vomiting, stomach and intestinal cramps, headache, dizziness and disturbances of the central nervous system. Continuous use is not advised. Its use in alcoholic drinks is forbidden in many countries because of this. (2)
Contraindicated during pregnancy (6)
Avoid both herbs (wormwood and mugwort) during pregnancy (They are uterine stimulants, and may cause fetal abnormalities) and if breastfeeding (thujone may be passed to the baby in the mother’s milk).
If using the tincture of either herb for liver or digestive disorders, use the hot water method (see p. 125) to reduce the alcohol (15)
Applications: Infusion: steep 5-15 min.; 3 oz. as needed, up to 2 cups daily. Tincture: 10-30 drops 3-4 x daily. Fluid extract: 15-60 drops 3-4 x daily. Powder: 2-4 #0 capsules (15-20 grains), 3-4 x daily. (14)
Infusion — 1 c. boiling water over 1-2 tsp dried herb; infuse 10-15 min; 3 x daily. Pill or capsule obviates the extreme bitter taste. Tincture — 1-4 ml, 3 x daily. (8)
A. Absinthium–Infusion: Take a weak infusion (5-10 g herb to 500 ml water) for sluggish digestion, poor appetite, and gastritis. Prescribed for jaundice and hepatitis, and to expel intestinal worms.
Tincture: Use as the infusion, but do not exceed 3 ml daily.
Compress: Soak a pad in the infusion to soothe bruises and bites.
Wash: Use the infusion externally for infestations such as scabies. (15)
Dosage: Tincture 10-30 drops 3 x daily. (2)
One teaspoon of the dried herb infused in a cup of boiling water or 3‑9 gms. (6)
The infusion of an ounce to a pint of boiling water is taken in half-cup doses. Liquid extract dose, 1/2-1 drachm. (57)
Websites: Absinthe: It’s Not Easy being Green http://www.newspeakdictionary.com/pf-absinthe.html
Introduction to Absinthe: http://www.the-night.net/absinthe/introduction.htm
Absinthe: The Green Fairy (Cayuga Botanicals’ Monograph) http://groups.msn.com/PaganHearthRecipes/absinthe.msnw
General Notes: These two related herbs (wormwood and mugwort) are highly regarded medicinally in both East and West. The Anglo-Saxons listed mugwort as one of the “nine sacred herbs” given to the world by the god Woden. It was also reputedly planted along roadsides by the Romans, who put sprigs in their sandals to prevent aching feet on long journeys. Both herbs are bitter digestive remedies, and many bitter apertifs such as vermouth contain wormwood as a digestive stimulant. As its name implies, wormwood is also used to expel parasitic worms. “Eldest of worts…for venom availest, for flying vile things, mighty against loathed one’s…” The Lacnunga, 9th century. (15)
(2) PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 664-65
(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D. , pg. 212
(8) The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 243
(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 194-95
(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pg. 39
(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., pgs. 379-80